Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash

Book: Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sophia Nash
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
truly adore a man who loves to dance, and who craves all biscuits.”
    A full smile overspread the Duke of Barry’s face, transforming the harsh, hollow angles into a thing of mesmerizing splendor in the night.
    “You should smile more often,” she said without thinking.
    He chuckled. “Care to dance, Miss Barclay?”
    “No”—another male voice, far more familiar, interrupted her answer—“she does not care to dance.”
    “Kress,” the Duke of Barry said with surprise.
    “Barry,” he replied curtly. “What are you doing here? I cannot allow you to cavort in private with my cousin. Are there not plenty of other chits inside, all panting after the chance for a dance with you?”
    “I’ve danced with half of them,” the Duke of Barry said. “And I needed a respite. Miss Barclay and I both agree ”—he looked at her and winked—“that it is too hot inside.”
    “No, it’s that you loath all entertainments. Candover warned me about you,” Kress replied.
    “And what are you doing out here . . . deserting your post, are you?”
    “Not at all. It’s like an inferno in there.”
    Roxanne stifled a giggle. Both gentlemen looked at her.
    And then, to add to the absurd conversation, a feminine voice with an awful lisp called out from the balustrade. “Your Gwace? Oh, yoo-hoo, is the Duke of Bawwyy in the gawden? The minuet is fowming.”
    Kress’s smile widened. “Your future calls, Bawwy.”
    The Duke of Barry exhaled in annoyance. “As does yours, Kwess.”
    “Go on,” Kress purred.
    Barry departed with such reluctance that his ramrod straight posture sagged for the slightest moment.
    Kress watched him leave and slowly turned to face her.
    Again, she felt as if he was too close to her. And yet . . . she wanted him closer. Sort of . Another part of her wanted to push him away. She was tiring of the game and it was putting her off her main purpose.
    Distance. What she needed was distance. “You were right.”
    “Of course I was right.” Confusion darted across his face. “About what, precisely?”
    “That I shouldn’t be here. Spying. I shall see you tomorrow. I’m going to take a roundabout way back to the servants’ entrance.”
    Before he could reply, she turned and walked quickly away from the castle, running headlong into the darkness. She skipped down the three little stone steps to the lower lawn and then continued on, a gurgle of emotion, something like laughter and sadness, rushed past her throat.
    She knew not if he followed her, but she darted to the left and continued toward the one place she doubted anyone would find her.
    She’d discovered a small pool behind some of the very tall sea grasses on the southern portion of the outcropping. Carved into ancient granite, the pool appeared as if a giant had punched the rock and placed moss about the edges in remorse.
    Roxanne tossed off her borrowed slippers, now surely grass-stained, and rolled off the fine white silk stockings. She sat on the cast-off items to protect the back of the ball gown, and dangled her feet in the cool water.
    Heaven. This was heaven. She wished she could stay here all night and pretend that none of the last few weeks had ever happened. Instead, she drowned in memories of the past, when she knew who she was and where she belonged.
    There was a little pond on the Paxton estate and she had sometimes gone there late in the evening with Eddie—during those overwarm summer nights when her husband had consumed too much from the wine cellar, and then snored in his leather chair in the study. She had dared to do what she had done as a girl near the small lake on her father’s property. She’d shed her gown and her undergarments, and dove into the water stark naked all to recapture the joy of her girlhood.
    But now, she did not dare. She was too old for that sort of nonsense.
    “Why am I guessing you prefer swimming to dancing?” A male voice came from behind her.
    She didn’t need to turn her head. “I’ll

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